Posted by: David McKay | May 6, 2010

A dialog on plastics:

This is a comment posted by a friend of mine who I invited to read my blog.  I welcome his dialog, and I welcome yours in response.  Please join us in the discussion:

Well Dave, I think your preaching to your choir. Every comment I’ve seen so far is rah rah lets save the earth from plastic.

How can you greenies be so short sighted? Secondly, Montpelier and the rest of Vermont was here for all of you non-Vermonters who have come here to save the world. We already created and took care of this state for you.

As a true Vermonter I will take credit for helping to provide a place that you could come to that was almost free of the strip malls, billboards, industrial plants, mass transit pollution and what ever else mankind created where you came from that drove you out.

Now, you congregate in one of the safest, cleanest and most environmentally stable states in the US to fight a battle that needs to be fought somewhere else. People come here to do their battles with the world because of all the like minded souls who have escaped the human trash left behind in the places where they were born or raised.

Stopping someone from using a plastic bag at Shaw’s may make you all shutter with glee that you did something to help the world and that’s OK but it did nothing for those people who were born without a conscience or common sense to use anything properly.

In the end, it is not the plastic that’s the problem it is it’s misuse that is the problem. If you are concerned about fossil fuels stop driving, stop heating your apartment, stop wrapping your leftovers, drink tap water that has run through a mile of old rusty pipes underground. Plastic is no different then anything else. A hammer just sits on a table until someone moves it. A bag does the same thing which is nothing unless some idiot leaves it to blow in the wind to land in a lake where it should not be.

By: Dan on May 6, 2010
at 10:39 am

Here is my response:

Dan,

I thought I would post our conversation more publicly so that the “choir” could have a better chance to respond if they choose to.

While I am not a true Vermonter, I am an American and thus free to reside in any of our great states.  In fact, the last place I lived (the one I moved here from) was in the state of Washington on an island off the coast there.  In the San Juan Islands there are no strip malls, billboards, industrial plants, or mass transit pollution, so your argument in that regard falls short.  Good try, though.  Oh, yeah, and it is my First Amendment right to congregate any where I damn well please.

I never thought of myself as a “Greenie” before.  I vote environmentally first before anything else.  I believe in sustainability.  I live in a flawed system, but I know we’re only human.  Yes, I burn fossil fuel when I drive my car.  But I no longer use plastic bags to haul my groceries home.  I no longer purchase plastic bottled water, or plastic bottled anything.  I am very conscious of the plastic in my life, but I know this is a process.  If you want to label me, that is certainly your prerogative.

Short-sighted is exactly what I am not.  Plastic, once produced, can last thousands of years after its “single” use.  Why do we do this?  Is it because our society in general is short-sighted?  We are not taking the long view because there are not enough people consciously thinking about their decisions in regards to their groceries at Shaw’s, to their addiction to plastics in general.  This is exactly what the plastics industry wants from us — apathy, ignorance, unconsciousness.  You do realize that if, as many Republicans clamor about, we would like to break our dependency upon foreign oil, we could save millions of barrels by eliminating single-use grocery bags?  Why doesn’t our government consider that?  I am sure there are some lobbyists, some very well paid lobbyists, that would cry foul to that.

You are right, Dan: it is the misuse that is the problem.  It is a flawed system that is the problem.  It is human greed and human ignorance that is the problem.

I did not come to Vermont to hide from the world — I left the shelter of a home in a forest on an island in a sea to reenter human society, to be a part of a solution.  I could be anywhere in the world doing this, but this is where I am.

Keep in mind — we only have one world, and we are all on it together.  Thanks for the discussion!

Rethink.  Refuse.  Reduce.  Reuse.

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Responses

  1. Of course I have to respond. Apparently you were hiding from the world on a beautiful island and then you decided that in order to justify your existence you re-entered my world.

    While you claim that it is your right as an American to live here (which I agree with) you also want to bring about more restriction to American life by restricting the use of plastic. We have discussed the safety benefits of the substance related to food safety, medical devices, parts for various things that are lighter and stronger then other materials etc., etc.

    What I truly can’t stand are people who protest the use of fossil fuels then get in their SUV and drive home. Or the new age homeowner who has a Hybrid car and has a diesel Kabota tractor to do work around the house and garden.

    Wind turbines use 40 gallons of petroleum to lubricate their internal workings and it must be replaced regularly. We live in a petroleum based economy. No one has come up with an alternative to petroleum to replace oil. When they do we will have to retrofit every furnace, every factory, every car and truck, everything that uses, runs on or is produced by the use of fossil fuels.

    All the discussion is moot until this new miracle fuel is discovered and able to be produced in the millions of gallons to run our systems. Or we can sink back to 3rd world status with disease, no heat, transportation with what, bicycles, horses, rickshaws? Can we produce enough corn to feed the world and power our vehicles too?

    The earths surface is two thirds water. Desalination machines are already invented so we will not run out of water any time soon. While as you put it, we all share the planet that is true. However, we are the nation that provides our wealth to other nations unable to coup with their problems. We invent things, we discover new medicines and procedures all the time using plastic and fossil fuels to better our lives and those who would not have the capacity to get them on their own.

    I labeled you as a greenie, you labeled me as a republican perhaps we are both wrong. What ever we are the answer is not in the plastic bag. I have a whole cupboard full of them and they are not blowing around in the wind. I will recycle them and at that point I have done what I was supposed to do.

    As for you, I don’t want this to be your downfall. If you become too obsessed with this you could become the next unibomber. At least your name is not Ted.

  2. Dave,
    Your hammer to plastic bag comparison is very apples to oranges in my opinion. We don’t have billions of hammers being produced, used one time and thrown away each year. Hammers are not clogging up our oceans and being eaten by sealife. I don’t believe your statement that “plastic is no different than anything else”. The fact that plastic is cheap and has no value has made it very disposable in our society and that just compounds the problem of a consumer-driven, fast-paced world.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Glad to have the conversation! Kate

  3. oops…sorry, Dave! I meant Dan!

  4. Dan,

    You must know my main issue is with single-use plastics: grocery bags, water bottles, and other such items that, given enough conscious thought we can live without. People driving bright yellow Hummers piss me off irregardless of their view about the world. What they drive says it all.

    The current continuing ecological disaster in the Gulf is merely an exclamation point to my side of our discussion, and you can probably make it one for yours as well.

    We should see ourselves as caretakers of our world, not careless abusers of it.

    I would love to write more, but I need to work on my school portfolio. . .

    Thanks for the dialog!


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